Wendy Dodunski, manager of nutrition and food services at Waikato DHB was awarded Outstanding Achievement in Dietetics from Dietitians New Zealand.
Dietitian New Zealand is the professional association for registered dietitians with around 600 members. Every year they support a number of members with these special awards.
Wendy’s highly regarded accolade is tribute to her leadership and experience in food service management, positioning her as one of the national leaders in dietetics alongside Massey Universities Carol Wham, whom she shared the award with.
Wendy gained dietetic registration in 1980 then worked at Waikato Hospital in both clinical and food service roles before becoming department manager in 1992.
In this role she has gained wide-ranging, personal mana for her professional leadership, her passion for dietetics and food service, and most of all, a career-long dedication to, and advocacy for ‘improving health through food and nutrition’ for all hospital patients.
The Waikato Hospital patient satisfaction surveys consistently achieve 99% or higher for ‘good’ or ‘very good’ food service scores which are a testament to the importance and standard Wendy places on the Hospital menu.
Some of her well known work includes:
- Working with the National Healthy Food and drink policy working group establishing standards for food supplied in the retail sector of her service which is also functioning as an education tool for both staff and visitors
- Two year involvement with the Health Benefits Limited food service project leading their food and nutrition advisory group producing detailed specifications and nutrition requirements for procurement of a national food service contract
- Leading a working group looking at national menu standards for New Zealand hospital food services
- Establishing the first accredited food safety plan in a NZ hospital
- Creating an innovative ACC programme resulting in a reduction in the ACC levy
- Membership of the Waikato DHB tender appraisal team
- Continually evolving food service to improve patient care and outcomes. For example;
- creating an in-between meal programme and porridge fortification to increase protein and energy intake for patients in the Older Persons and Rehabilitation Service
- Adding a “chef’s special” to the menu several times per week to prevent menu fatigue for long stay patients in the Hospital’s Mental Health unit
- Initiated selective menus for Meals on Wheels clients so that they could have a choice rather than receive a standard meal
- Mentoring and developing students and less experienced dietitians working in foodservice
- Guest lecturing for both Auckland and Otago universities.